514: Building a Better Dashboard | Perry Wiggins, CFO, APQC

Listen to the Episode Below (00:35:26)

As CFO Perry Wiggins recounts the different door-opening opportunities that allowed him to advance to the CFO office, APQC’s finance leader doesn’t hesitate to expose the seldom-mentioned sensation that frequently accompanies new responsibility–the feeling of being overwhelmed. According to Wiggins, the sense of being overwhelmed by new responsibilities is an experience that finance career-builders should at times relish because it signals that they are being given “room to grow.”

“There’s an expression–‘Luck is where preparation and opportunity meet.’ I was prepared when an opportunity came along inside a healthcare company, and that opportunity just opened so many others for me,” says Wiggins, who credits an early mentor for sharpening his career focus and directing him down an accounting track that he routinely widened as he took on different finance roles. –Jack Sweeney

CFOTL: What comes to mind when we ask for a finance strategic moment?

Wiggins: It was a big lightbulb moment for me when last year we had a satisfaction survey that went out across APQC about the finance and accounting team, which was an evaluation of me and my team, about how we were doing. While we got back great feedback and great scores, one of the prevailing comments was that people wished that they knew more about the company and the company’s finances. Well, you know, everything that we have from a financial standpoint is pretty public and is on our file server. As a nonprofit, we do a lot of public reporting, so whatever you want to know is there.

So, it kind of came as a surprise to me to hear people say that, but it afforded me the opportunity to establish lunch-and-learns that every four months or so I offer out to the whole company. We meet in our big auditorium, and also we publish online as well. Just a lunch-and-learn about finance and accounting and why the numbers that you’re reporting on to your manager and your area are important. How did we do as a company financially, from a revenue standpoint and from an expense standpoint? We’re not for profit, so we don’t speak net profit and loss, but surplus and deficits or contributions and deficits. And when I had that first lunch-and-learn last year to kind of tell the story about APQC financially, where we’ve been and where we’re going, the turnout was shocking.

It really shocked me because it was such a great turnout. The questions coming out of that lunch-and-learn were just so good and the interest was so high. What really surprised me was the level of interest in finances across the organization. And what’s so great is that I now get the opportunity as the CFO to keep telling the story, to continue to do these lunch-and-learns about the company that these employees work at, the areas that they work in, how what they’re doing in their particular area in marketing or in membership, in a department or an advisory service or a research service–how all this affects the consolidated bottom line. jb